By Anush Garg:
It is a known fact that we have the most beautiful monument in the world, Taj Mahal. But then, few people know that India also has the cleanest village in the continent. The village is approximately 90 kilometres from Shillong and the Indo-Bangladesh border is merely 3 kilometres from this so-called cleanest village. The village is called Mawlynnong.
I was impressed by the administration control by the Headman (Mukhiya) of Mawlynnong, Thomlin Khongthohrem. He imposes various fines starting from Rs 50: such as a fine on littering, use of poly bags and smoking cigarettes. These fines are very small amounts of money which can easily be paid, but due to humiliation and embarrassment at the thought that their self-respect is at stake, the 87 households make sure that they follow the rules. Even the tourists who travel to the village have to abide by the rules framed by the administration and one cannot help but admire the work by the villagers towards the environment in return for the minerals and clean atmosphere which Mother Nature has provided them with.
Nature is what the inhabitants of Mawlynnong depend upon. The main source of income in the village, like most other Indian villages is agriculture and people therefore cultivate different kinds of crops. The main attraction of the village is the amazing ‘living roots bridge‘. I saw a documentary, which showed how the villagers constructed a bridge using two Banyan tree roots and these roots were woven by generations for the past 200 years.
Cleanliness comes from within us. If the rest of the villages in India follow the same pattern as this particular village, we could cut carbon emission by 20% and could easily maintain sanitation, which could give our children and the coming generations a cleaner environment to breathe in.
Mawlynnong village also boasts of a 100% literacy rate and that is only because the 87 households believe in passing on education to their younger ones and this is being practiced for several generations. Other villages could open up schools, for the young and the old and make sure everyone receives proper education. Evening classes can be organized where the teacher could be anyone from within the village. Anyone with a given amount of education can share his/her knowledge with fellow villagers only in order to enlighten them on the issues that plague our society. This way we can build up cleaner, nicer and empowered villages around the nation, of which we can be proud.
The Union Ministry of Rural Development should therefore use Mawlynnong village as an example for 65% of the total Indian population, living in villages in India so that they learn from the people of this particular place and make themselves self-sufficient and alleviate the problems of poverty and illiteracy. Only then will our country be a genuinely developed one.